How motherhood should be! Long post (sorry!)

How motherhood should be! Long post (sorry!)

My second baby is 2 weeks old today. That means I am past the real danger zone for a repeat episode and, although there is still a heightened risk until he is 6 weeks old, I honestly can't see there being any chance of me getting ill again as everything is just so different and amazing this time around. How it should and could have been with my first baby.

I am looking at my son and feeling that initial bonding which I missed out on with my little girl and I'm crying my eyes out; tears of self pity for me for what happened 2.5yrs ago (as I can now see how completely avoidable it would have been if the proper support was in place and I'd had any knowledge/insight into this awful illness), sadness for my daughter having to suffer (although I appreciate she won't remember it, but for me the deprivation she was subjected to as a result of my being ill is heart breaking) and be without "me" for so long as a result of my illness and also tears of joy for the amazing experience I am having with my son. This is how motherhood should feel.

When my tears subside I then feel very angry at the terrible service I received from the medical "professionals" back in 2012, who failed to spot or act on all the warning signs, didn't educate or counsel me or my partner adequately (or at all really) before, during or after the whole ordeal, kept me from my daughter for 2 weeks while I was sectioned on an acute ward (the most terrifying and confusing time of my life), failed to get me to a MBU sooner (despite that being perfectly feasible as when I did finally get there, they commented how well I was and asked why I hadn't been transferred sooner as they'd had a bed!!! Answer, ignorance of the staff in the acute ward, delays with paperwork and the fact I was so ill & confused that I had no idea it was an option I could/should have been pushing for).

All of this resulted in me being unwell for many months, when I firmly believe that, had I received better care earlier, the situation could have been so very different. Even if my episode couldn't have been avoided, it certainly could have been managed a millions times better resulting in no separation from my newborn (which caused me to completely tip over the edge as I had no idea what was going on and ripping me from my baby was the very worst thing to do, given a mother's primal urge to care for her young), perhaps a shorter stay in a MBU or even treatment at home and finally the correct medication (if necessary at all as arguably it wouldn't have been with the proper/earlier intervention and care!) to perhaps avoid my having had to give up the established breastfeeding I'd just got in place after my daughter's rocky start being in SCBU. I might then have avoided the months of crippling depression and anxiety, which followed my episode and was basically ignored by the useless EIP service that visited me at home once I left the MBU. Despite my repeat requests for an antidepressant, I didn't get my medication changed until I moved to a different NHS area, where I was immediately referred to a perinatal psychiatrist (the word perinatal hadn't been mentioned to me at all where I'd lived previously!) and given the amazing support which helped me then make the final journey from the dark cloud and back to being me :-)

It took over a year to reach that stage, a year of my daughter's life I will never get back, where I couldn't enjoy her and was a zombie going through the motions of caring for her needs when I mainly just wanted to stay in bed and hide from the world.

I know you can't change the past, and I am very much looking to the future, but they should be held accountable. Even when I tried to pursue giving them feedback/making a complaint when I felt suitably recovered, I was ignored and told I was unable to pursue it because it was over 12 months ago! I think it is disgusting that there is such disparity in the level of perinatal service offered across the country. I just hope that the apparent heightened awareness of perinatal mental health continues and that more mothers are able to access better services to help them, rather than suffer any level of what I had to endure, which I would not wish on anyone.

On a positive final note I would like to say that it is with great thanks to all the amazing support I have received this time around from friends, family, others on this forum, medical professionals and not forgetting Prof. Ian Jones, that I am confident I will be able to remain well following the birth of my son. After a slightly tricky start, I have managed to establish breastfeeding. I am getting 5/6hrs sleep a night. I have not needed to take any medication, although I have quetiapine 25mg in my drawer to take PRN to help me sleep if necessary (and which I can continue to breastfeed while taking) but I'm so happy and relaxed that I am not having any trouble sleeping - when my little man lets me! So to all of you out there who might be considering a second baby but are, understandably, concerned about a repeat episode, it most definitely can be done with the right support in place. If anyone wants to message me to ask any questions/advice then I will be happy to offer my perspective as I am passionate about trying to help others avoid this illness, if possible.

Apologies for the length of this post. I hope others may find it as useful as I have found it cathartic writing it all down. I also hope the photo I am attaching does not offend, but I'm just so bloody proud of myself!

Much love to all of us PP survivors - we are amazing! xx

9 Replies

  • Hi Rose89,

    How amazing to read your post and I am so happy for you that things are going well with your 2nd baby. I too had PP after my first in 2009 and then went on to have another baby in 2013 with no recurrence of the horrible illness we have all suffered and done so much to overcome.

    I can appreciate how it must have been good to get all your feelings down as well, and I see many similarities from my own experience - the delays in my diagnosis and proper treatment (general wards, whilst necessary at times, are so much less preferable to MBUs - there should be a MBU that every woman can access wherever she lives!) I share your thoughts around the "what if's" about whether I would have avoided the worst of the psychosis, 3 month hospital stay, huge amounts of anxiety when I eventually was discharged and all the time I was so desperate to feel "normal" again... If only a proper perinatal service had been available.

    It's great to hear that you were able to access a perinatal service in the end though and the tremendous help that this has obviously been to you in 2nd pregnancy. If only there was a perinatal service where I live too, or awareness amongst local practitioners to refer to one, even though it is 50 miles away! But no matter, I kept well and like you, the help of wonderful women through this site and APP was a big part of that. And a consultation with Dr Ian Jones, he really helped me too.

    But do you know what, whilst I share your anger and frustration at how things could have been - and we each have 2nd baby experiences which have been everything that the 1st one wasn't - I have decided, that I will continue through APP to fight this. I am doing some awareness raising and Regional Rep work that hopefully will play some small part in changing things in the future. Because as you rightly say, we cannot change the past. I firmly believe that others can and should learn from it, and I tell my story (of both pregnancies, births and experiences after it) as much as I can to try and affect this change.

    I too feel that I lost those early days, weeks, months and probably a year or more of my firstborn's life. But I take enormous comfort in the amazing bond he has with his Dad, who did everything I couldn't. And also that I know he is a happy, healthy 5 year old who really didn't know anything else, and although we had a rocky start, we are stronger than ever - perhaps in spite of the PP, perhaps even because of it.

    Well done on your journey so far, it is something to celebrated and proud of. I hope you have many more wonderful memories to come, as I am sure we all do. Take care, and thanks for sharing your story. xx

  • Such a lovely story to share! Congtratulations... You have come so far and should be so proud of yourself. Enjoy, enjoy... You deserve it! X

  • Hi such a lovely story that u and your partner have braved a second baby and are now enjoying every minute. Oh to have had mother and baby units in place when I was ill 17years ago. I hope you can relax this timed round and rest assured with all the extra support u have in place. One last plea, do stay alert to the dangers of PPP as in my case it didn't strike til my first born was 9months old and I returned to work and had to stop breastfeeding. The stress of work and I believe the hormonal changes from stopping breastfeeding are wot triggered my PPP. Also like yourself it then took ages to get a diagnosis and I was too far gone by then! Seven years later I plucked up courage to have my second child and three years after that my third. I never suffered PPP with my second or third births. Although admittedly there were a few wobbly moments in there!! Enjoy Hunny and best of luck to your and your beautiful family x x

  • Such a heart warming story, thank you for sharing! Congratulations on the birth of your son, you look very happy! We're trying for our second child now, with trepidation, so I find your story very encouraging. Take care and good luck for the future! xx

  • Hi Rose, so glad all has gone well for you so nice to see the lovely picture of yourself and your beautiful son. I am overwhelmed by the stories and have never before had the opportunity to talk about it not alone share the experiences with anyone. Finding a wonderful group of women who really understand is so amazing, has made me tearful today! I am also horrified that you were subjected to such poor care, I had assumed that the care had improved these days.

    I wonder if the incidence of PP is higher for the first baby and what the incidence of developing depression afterwards. My PP was followed by depression too but fortunately I was put onto anti-depressants fairly swiftly so I didn't have to endure it for too long.

    You are so right in the need to raise awareness of perinatal mental health, particularly the lesser known PP. I'm yearning to try and understand the condition more if that is possible.

    All the best


  • Motherhood should be a special time to bond with your baby, and it saddens me that it is so much more difficult for some women than others because of mental health issues perhaps not helped enough.

    Being able to take each day at a time is helpful: all the best to you and your family.

    Lauraine Leigh Klugman

  • Hello Rose89

    Lovely to 'meet' you here and thanks for posting. Many congratulations on your second bundle of joy!

    So much has changed for the better since my PP episodes when I was 23 and 29. I did question some of the decisions made during this time. However, so many years have passed and I am sincerely grateful to everyone involved in my care that I completely recovered. My faith has been a great comfort.

    The support from the APP team made all the difference in coming to terms with what happened to me and I now have many virtual friends here.

    All the very best for the future with your precious family.

  • Hi Rose89

    I'm so happy to hear it all went well second time around. I really enjoyed reading about how well it's gone with your little boy.

    This story will definitely give other families so much hope if they are thinking about having another baby. You look so happy and relaxed in the photo.

    Take care xx

  • hi Rose, your story could have been mine. I experienced the same inefficiency. I too believe the lack of good care caused my depression that followed the PP. I wrote a book about it. Unfortunately not yet translated into English. If your Dutch is good enough you can have a look: Enjoy the time with your little boy and his big sister. And congrats! love Brenda (Belgium)

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